Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
If the type is too small, Ctrl+ is your friend

Thursday, September 30, 2021

What are the odds?

1964 Lotus 34*
160 piece jigsaw puzzle

Working on jigsaw puzzles is one of my favorite pass times these days. My standard procedure is pick out all of the edge pieces and work inward from there. The funny thing is that I often get a pair of tiles that connect even though I have only sorted through a few of the pieces, so now I'm wondering what are the odds? Say you have a 10 by 12 puzzle. You're going to have 120 pieces all told and 40 of those pieces will be edge pieces. If you have picked out n edge pieces, what are the odds that the next edge piece you pull will be a match for any of your existing pieces?

Starting with the edge and working inward works with most puzzles, but it didn't work for the one shown above. Puzzle pieces come in a variety of shapes, usually with curving edges that interlock with each other. Not this one, here the pieces are simple quadrilaterals and some pieces that were not edge pieces also had sides that were either perfectly vertical or horizontal, so you couldn't tell if they were edge pieces or not. The fact that half of the pieces were pure black didn't help either. So for this puzzle, I started from the center where there was something to see and worked outward.

When we are playing Rummikub, at the start you are usually holding at least one group of three tiles (either a run or three of a kind). The longer you play, the more tiles are on the board, and so there are more opportunities to play. How many tiles need to be on the board for you to be able to play all the tiles you are holding? Another way to put it, is how many tiles do you need to play them all? If you have three tiles, and they are all the same number, then three is all you need. But what are the odds of having three of a kind? Likewise, if you have 30 tiles, what are the odds that you could combine all of them into runs or three or four of a kind? I am not sure there is a mathematical formula for it. It might take a simulation, which is right up my alley.

* The Lotus 34 was a British racing car built by Team Lotus for the 1964 Indianapolis 500. . . . At Indianapolis, Jim Clark qualified on the pole, joined by five other similar cars. The Dunlop tyres failed during the race, leading to Clark crashing and the second 34 being parked. - Wikipedia


Toshiba In Trouble?

Toshiba Worldwide Presence

Who knew? Certainly not me. I've owned several Toshiba products and they served me well for many years. The only Toshiba device I have now is a Chromebook. ZeroHedge reports:

Most Americans probably remember Toshiba for the DVD players, TVs and other consumer electronics it once produced and sold in droves. But in more recent decades, the company has been badly mismanaged. It was forced to sell off its once-prized chips business in 2018 to offset losses generated by a disastrous foray into the nuclear power business. Then, back in June, Osamu Nagayama, the chairman of its board, was ousted in a rare vote by shareholders to oust the chairman of a major Japanese firm in the wake of an accounting fraud scandal. In Japan, taking out board members and management in such a brusque style simply isn't done.

Now, the board is at a cross-roads. It's in the final stages of a strategic review demanded by above-mentioned "wolfpack". They're pressuring the company to agree to set of measures that would beef up the stock price (selling assets, funding buybacks). According to the FT, activist and special events funds are "camped out in Toshiba's shareholder register in the expectation that investors can force the company into a strategy that would significantly raise its share price."


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

C What?

My neck is a little stiff these days, literally. If might also be stiff figuratively, but that's not why we are here. Driving in any civilized area is not a problem for me, but when you get twisted-in-a-knot and thrown-in-a-blender Portland, then you have a problem. Stop signs are on every corner in town. Stop signs are great, at least when the corners are civilized corners, nice and square, not like these gyroscopic corner's we've got all over this fair burger of ours. You pull up to a stop sign at a nice (good doggy) square corner, and you don't have to turn your head more than 90 degrees to either side to completely assess the situation (unless you count what's going on behind you, but that's a topic for another day). But you pull up to one of these gyroscopic corners and you have to look in your blind spot which means turn halfway round in your seat in order to see what the hell's back there. At least you do if you are stiff-necked-lubber like I am.

Okay, you may say, but what's a gyroscopic corner? It is a name I coined, ne'r, pulled out the blue, to attach to this devilish construction that puts oncoming traffic in your blind spot, which is exactly what it will do to you.

So I'm thinking I need to remedy this situation. A hand mirror might work, but it would be a nuisance. Well, before I go all haywire maybe I should try one of those stick-on wide angle mirrors. I don't like the tiny ones, but maybe I can find something. So I dial up Amazon, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but this glorious device:

iCBEAMER


The ICBEAMER. Say what? How to parse that? Let me count the ways:

1. I CB E AMER, like iPhone, so you know it's cool, CB because boomers used to use CB radios, E for Eagle and AMER is obviously short for America. Never mind that's it's just a jumble of words. There is probably a target audience out there that would respond to this kind of word salad. Ooo! Look! That salad's got them pecans in it. I like pecans, I'm gonna get me some salad.

2. I C BEAMER - I as in me myself and I, C meaning see and BEAMER, a common slang term for a BMW car. So, I see a BMW behind me. What comes next is anybodies guess. High speed car chase? YouTube video? Police on the scene, know what I mean? Crashes, destruction, emergency room, surgery, funeral home, or maybe therapy and a new restricted way of life. Or they might get away with it.

3. IC BE AMER - a new political slogan by the semiconductor industry, the people who make ICs (Integrated circuits). The want the more chip factories (wafer fabs) built in this country.

4. ICE BEAM ER - This one stretches the rules a bit, but spelling is flexible these days, right? Take some ICE, add some Jim BEAM, and you could end up in the ER (Emergency Room).

I'm sure y'all can come up with some others.


Not Employed

Old Market Pub

Our cabal of curmudgeons went to lunch yesterday at Old Market Pub in southwest Portland. The place was plastered with big signs urging us to be nice to their wait staff as it is becoming ever more difficult to hire people, as indicated by the big signs saying NOW HIRING

Meanwhile, the Fed-Ex distribution center in Troutdale (far east side of Portland) is missing one-third of their normal complement of workers which means they are having trouble delivering their packages on time.

I saw a story about how supply chains are having problems getting their regularly scheduled deliveries due to a shortage of truck drivers.

Meanwhile, homeless encampments keep expanding. At the beginning of summer this year, the homeless were pert near invisible in Hillsboro (15 miles west of Portland), now they are encamped up and down TV Highway.

What's going on? Last week $25 an hour was a living wage and $50 an hour was first class. Now it seems that those rates have doubled. There's the Federal Government saying that all employees of big employers must be vaccinated. That might explain Fed-Ex's problem. Don't know whether it is because people can't get vaccinated (for one reason of another) or they just don't want to get stuck. Doesn't explain the restaurant staffing problem, unless our state government has required that all food service workers get the shot.

Swimming for the boat

I suspect the biggest problem is inflation. People want more money for their time. The American economy is predicated on the belief that if you keep swimming, eventually you will reach the lifeboat and you will be able to pull yourself aboard and you won't have to keep swimming just to stay alive. You'll need to keep rowing if you want to get anywhere, but you aren't in danger or immediately drowning. However, if the current is too strong and with every stroke you make, the lifeboat gets farther away, why bother swimming? You are going to drown anyway, just give up now and save yourself a lot of work. Do you really need to shell out two grand a month for rent when you can pitch a tent on the verge of a road for free? Hot showers are nice, but do you really need to take one every frickin' day?

Problem is, if wages go up, so will prices. When the Thursday lunch bunch first started getting together back around the year 2000, lunch at the Happy Panda was $5, give or take half a rock, and whether to shell out the extra half a rock for something special or get a cheaper meal was enough to give one pause. Now, lunch runs closer to $20.

Restaurants, and a lot of other places are going to have to start raising their prices, but it's a ticklish sort of business. Raise them too much and you'll drive away customers. Don't raise your prices, and don't raise your wages, and your service will deteriorate and that will drive away customers. And everytime you raise your prices you need to print new menus, which is an additional expense, unless you go to the new QR code menus. Then you don't have to print anything, but how much does keeping a online menu up to date cost? Besides QR menus are stupid, but that's coming from a guy who hates his smartphone.

Bare Bones RV Campground, Sevierville, Tennessee

I still think setting up some campgrounds could help the homeless. I mean, how much does it cost to set up a campground, and I don't mean a Disney-fied version with cut little figures tacked on every amenity you could imagine. I mean some reasonably flat ground with decent drainage, a potable water supply and some latrines. Of course, governing such a site would be the big problem. You don't want the government setting it up because they would be ham-strung by all their rules and regulations. A private organization could set it up. Might even be able to turn a profit.


Alaska Cell Phone Coverage

Alaska Cell Phone Coverage

This map tells you more about Alaska than anything else I have seen. The colored areas (two shades of blue and two shades of red) show AT&T and Verizon's coverage areas for voice and data. I was surprised to see how different they are. The link goes to a zoomable map that covers all 50 states of the USA. 

Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound
The area shown is roughly 300 miles across

Notice that they cover the land areas surrounding Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, but they don't cover the water. I guess the FCC doesn't care about fishermen. I suspect that those two bodies of water are pretty well covered since there are no obstacles, they are surrounded by coverage, and they aren't that far across.

Via Detroit Steve


Monday, September 27, 2021

Love

Sculpture by Louise Bourgeois
99 piece jigsaw puzzle

Unlike the previous bit of sculpture I posted, I like this piece, probably because it's polished aluminum and it reminds of some alien spaceships from science fiction movies. Funny thing is that this is like the only picture I could find of this piece, and that's from the workshop where it was cast. Did it never find a home? I dunno. It's the only piece by Louise that I like, most of the rest are pretty hideous. Is this connected to the general decline of civilization, or am I an alien?


Dream Stairs

Concrete Stairs in a Concrete Room

A friend of mine are outside a shopping mall. He's telling me his about his plan to marry Princess Margaret, never mind that she died 20 years ago. Maybe this dream happened 60 years ago. He needs something from the drugstore which is where we are headed. The drugstore is stuck onto the side of the mall, you can probably get there by going inside the mall, but it looks like there should be another entrance over to the side. The place that looks like it should be an entrance isn't. There is a recess maybe four feet deep in the wall, but there is no door, just a low concrete barrier about table height. It opens into a big, empty, concrete room.  There is a ledge cast into one concrete wall about eight inches wide. It slopes up to the next level. The slope is about half as steep as a flight of stairs. We have no trouble getting on this ledge and then side-stepping up to the next level. Well, presumably we side-stepped up to the next level, because we get there, but my brain skips over the part about actually side-stepping. We start and then we are on the next level, just like in the movies. At the next level there is the same thing. Still no sign of a store, nothing but empty concrete rooms, but maybe the next level will get us there. Once more into the breach, but this time the ledge isn't so well made and after a few feet it narrows down to about four inches. A skinny person would have no trouble in sidling along this ledge, but I don't know if chubby me can manage it. Funny, there was never any fear of falling in this dream even though we must have gained considerable height. Unless the ledge was just following a stairway, but if that was the case, why didn't we just take the stairs?


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Cessna 421

Cessna 421 over Lake Travis

The Cessna 421 is what a typical private plane should be. It can carry six people 1,500 miles in six hours, not four people crammed into a tiny cabin covering half that distance. A used 421 costs about the same as a new Skyhawk, about $400K.

But the reason we have it here is because this photo was taken over Lake Travis, just northwest of Austin, Texas. I spent a fair amount of time there when I lived in Austin back in the late 1970's. I tried to locate this scene on Google Maps but I didn't have any luck. There are a zillion twists and turns in the Colorado River, plus Lake Travis is a reservoir so the water level goes up and down which can change the appearance drastically. Note that this Colorado River is not the same one that goes through the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Artificial Life

Titan Handgun Safe

I'm looking at handgun safes, small safes used to store handguns. People use them to keep handguns available in case of emergency. I live in a quiet neighborhood, but every so often you hear about somebody making trouble. The odds are against anything happening here, but you never know, do you? Like I am fond of saying - 'big rocks fall out of the sky'. Doesn't happen often, and they seldom hit anybody, but still, you wouldn't want to be standing there. Even if you magically knew where it was going to hit, there is enough randomness in the world that that rock would deviate just a smidge, so anywhere with a hundred yards of that magically spot is going to be very dangerous. And that's only for very small size rocks, say less than 10 pounds. I wonder if anyone has plotted the size of the danger zones created by meteorites of various sizes. I mean the one that took out the Yucatan was probably a pretty good sized rock, maybe even kilometers or so in diameter.

Of course, coming in like they do, a lot of it gets burned up on the way in, so how much of a meteor gets ablated away on the way to impact? I'm sure it depends on the angle the rock comes in on. Heading dead center for Earth, its trajectory would be perpendicular to the surface and it's passage through the atmosphere would be shortest. 100 miles straight down would be over in maybe 10 seconds. Coming in at something less than 45 degrees, you are going to be traveling through atmosphere for a much longer time, maybe even a minute. Plenty of time to ablate you down to nothing, you stupid rock.

Anyway, back on track. Bad things can just strike you out of the blue. The more you are prepared for, the better your chances of living to blog about your experience. I'm still alive and I'm still blogging, so maybe I know what I'm talking about. Or maybe I'm just lucky. Or maybe the hit squad just hasn't shown up yet.

So I'm looking at handgun safes. You ask the Google / Amazon and you get a zillion biometric gun safes. The problem with these things is that they require batteries. I am ambivalent about batteries. In this case I think it's a very bad idea. If I put a gun in a handgun safe, I want to there and accessible for the next century. I don't want to have change the fricking battery every month or year or decade. I don't want to have to change it ever. Smoke alarms are bad enough. I hate those motherfuckers. I put up with them for the one in one zillion chance of there being a fire. I'm not sure which is more paranoid, having smoke detectors or getting a COVID shot? But I use battery powered clocks, and once a year (or two) I have to replace the batteries. That's okay, they don't screech at you incessantly when the battery dies, it's usually pretty obvious when they stop, someone will notice. I think the big reason I don't mind changing their batteries is I like having them around. They are an emblem of stability. If the clock is on the wall, and it is showing the correct time, all is right with the world. If there is anything wrong, an investigation immediately commences. Apparently it is an emotional thing.

And battery powered power tools have taken over the world. The batteries are expensive, but the power! Hoo rah! I feel like a marine!

We've got more stuff being run with batteries now. Telephones, computers and even cars. Shoot, we've even got robots running on batteries. So now I'm envisioning a world where we are surrounded by a plethora of battery powered devices, devices that can perform any function we want, but their batteries are all dead. So now, if you want something done, you need to supply the power. I can see people carrying little pocket book sized battery packs to power whatever device they need to operate. Open the door? Give me a boost. Ride the elevator? Give me a boost. Open my handgun safe? Give me a boost. I don't think I like that, but that might be where we are heading in a hundred years or so. But in a hundred years who knows what the technologists will have come up with. Batteries that last 100 years might be coming out of the factory so fast that they have to pay you to haul them away. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.


Golden F-22

F-22

A comment on the FlightAware page piqued my curiosity:

A metallic coating of indium-tin-oxide is added to the canopy for stealth reasons, which gives it the gold color.

How does that work? I found several places that all say basically the same thing, but nothing that really makes any sense. I would have to see just how radar waves react to this stealth coating, but I would probably need some kind of security clearance to see it, and that ain't gonna happen.

But maybe it's not really for stealth, maybe it's just for defrosting:

ITO films deposited on windshields are used for defrosting aircraft windshields. The heat is generated by applying voltage across the film. - Wikipedia

 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Russian-American Cooperation

Aeroflot Boeing MD-11 at Frankfurt Germany

You've come a long way baby:

From its inception [in 1923] to the early 1990s, Aeroflot was the flag carrier and a state-owned enterprise of the Soviet Union (USSR). During this time, Aeroflot grew its fleet to over five thousand domestically-made aircraft and expanded to operate a domestic and international flight network of over three thousand destinations throughout the Soviet Union and the globe, making the airline the largest in the world at the time. - Wikipedia
Now they're using imperialist running dog aircraft. Stalin must be spinning in his grave. Maybe he'll catch fire. That would be appropriate.

Aeroflot has appeared here before, though it's spelled Аэрофлот in some places.

Cocos Islands

Submarine Cable Map

An animated map of all the submarine cables encircling our globe. This screenshot doesn't capture the pulsing flow of data that the original shows, but it's easy enough to insert in this blog. Embedding the original is beyond my reach today.

I'm looking at this map and I discover something curious. In this view we have Australia at the bottom right and Arabia at the upper left. The white line connecting the two is the Oman-Australia Cable (OAC). Okay, fine, but what's that branch that takes off from the middle of that line heading northeast to the middle of the ocean? What's out there? Some secret military installation? A mad scientist's lair? Nothing so interesting, just the Cocos Islands, another obscure island I had never heard of.

It got it's start in the undersea cable business early:
The islands were annexed by the British Empire in 1857. . . . In 1901 a telegraph cable station was established on Direction Island. Undersea cables went to Rodrigues, Mauritius, Batavia, Java and Fremantle, Western Australia. In 1910 a wireless station was established to communicate with passing ships. The cable station ceased operation in 1966. . . . The Oman Australia Cable, scheduled for 2021, will feature a branch to the Cocos Islands. -Wikipedia
There was a bit of excitement during WW1 during the Battle of Cocos, probably because it was a bit of a communications hub for the British Empire in the Indian Ocean. WW2 was much quieter.

Via Detroit Steve

Previous submarine cable post here. Links to other submarine cable maps here and here.

Traffic Lights

Traffic Light with Bicycle Indicator

Saw this the other day at the corner of Terwilliger and Capitol Highway in Portland, Oregon. The old lady contingent is trying to turn Portland into Amsterdam with its bicycles and trams. Stupid idea. The west side of Portland is covered with hills, Amsterdam is flat. We still have room to expand, though the 1,000 Friends of Oregon hates that idea. The only people who ride bicycles in Portland are the super fit maniacs who think everyone should ride a bicycle on city streets alongside 20 ton trucks rumbling by at 40 MPH. Portland is not Amsterdam. If that's what you want, you should probably move there. Trying to remake Portland into Amsterdam is going to be like stuffing a bull into a pair of skinny jeans. It just ain't gonna happen.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Outposts of Civilization

US Military Bases Worldwide
Click to embiggenate

I've been mulling over the US Military's engagements in Viet Nam* and Afghanistan, been mulling it over for more than 50 years. I think I sort of understand what happened and why, and I understand why they were such unmitigated disasters, and I think the term 'unmitigated disasters' is entirely accurate. But what bothers me (other than the lack of justice being applied to some of the stupidest people on the planet, but we're not going down that rathole, at least not yet), what bothers me is I haven't seen any kind of plan on how it might have been handled better. A more aggressive approach to the war might have helped, but it might have just gotten us into a much bigger war. Whatever, all-out war might solve all our problems. Hah, that's a laugh. We might very well kill a billion people, turn a couple more continents into wastelands and unite us all under one global leadership where everyone gets up at dawn and they are so happy and glad to be living in a free society that they all spontaneously burst into song and sing the patriot hymn of the day.

Anyway, one idea I've been kicking around is to set up a compound in our target country, i.e. the country we want to bring out of the middle ages and into the present, and engage with the locals. Trade, a school, a Christian church, a post office. Problem is that in any third world country, you are susceptible** to attack, so you need to be able to defend yourself, which means you need a detachment of soldiers. And attack might not just come from local bandits with knives, it might include anything up to the government sending the army with rockets and tanks. So you need to be prepared to evacuate on a moment's notice or having enough might on hand to defend yourself.

Well, the US Military has only one way of doing anything: overdo it. You want us to protect that school? Well, we're going to need a jet capable runway, a fleet of F-16's, barracks for 200 men, 4 tanks, and a million gallons of petrol. And then we'll sit there, twiddling our thumbs for a buck and a half a day, for days, weeks or years until we go home or the bloody bastards show up on our doorstep screaming for blood. Then we earn our pay.

Sorry, got a little carried away there. So anyway, if the US is going to have any kind of an outpost in another country, we're going to have a military base to protect it. I hear a lot of noise about how the US has military bases all over the world and how it's costing all this money, but I suspect most all of these bases have some interaction with local population (okay, there are some places where there are no locals to speak of, like Diego Garcia). The question is, are these little outposts of civilization doing any good?

P.S. I have no idea how accurate the map is. Do we really have dozens of bases in the Caribbean?

* when did they start spelling Viet Nam Vietnam? I distinctly remember it being two words umpteen years ago. Who are these dilettantes that go around changing the spelling of words? Do you remember when the capital of China was Peking? Then they changed to Pei-Ping (maybe?) and now it's Beijing. I mean, WTF?

** apparently 'susceptible' can now also be spelled 'succestable'.


Bookcase

Cherry Bookcase

My daughter wants to remodel her kitchen, which leads to talking about cabinets which leads to Vlastic, the Czech immigrant who built the cabinets in our basement when we finished it 20 years ago. Do a little digging and finally find his old website, and what do we have here? - a photo of my bookcase. I'll be durned. Still hoping to get in touch with him, but it might be a little difficult as he has moved out of state. He did leave an excellent farewell letter, which I quote:
Obituary, 2014
 
I'm done in Oregon with it's ever rising taxes, more taxes, taxes disguised as no taxes, insurances, bonds, fees, surcharges, handling fees, filling fees, rules, regulations, more regulations, administrative reports, permits and more permits.

I'm moving out.

Thanks to all of my customers and G.C. for all those jobs.
Hope everything worked fine and holds, since I already cashed the checks.  :-)

Best of luck.

Vlastic

Bell Soap Bubble Helicopter

Bell H-13 Sioux Helicopter, 1954, Korea

Made famous by the TV series Mash. The Sioux was the military version, the civilian version was called the Bell 47. First started flying in 1946. Over 7,000 were built, there are several dozen on display. There might be a couple still flying.



Hate

Umschreibung Munich, Germany
126 piece jigsaw puzzle

When I first caught a glimpse of this, I thought it might be something cool, like someone had put this sinuous staircase in a very staid, rectilinear building. Alas, such is not the case. It is a piece of sculpture. They are stairs, but they don't go anywhere.

Umschreibung Munich, Germany

I don't know why, but things like this really irritate me. Oh, I can come up with any number of rational reasons for not like liking it, like it's a stupid waste of time, materials and energy, but most of everything we do (in the developed world anyway) is that. Maybe 10% of our energy is actually used to produce what we need. The rest of it is spent on entertainment or arguing about anything and everything. But why do things like this grate on me so? I find it hard to believe that anyone gets any enjoyment out of something so monumentally stupid. I suppose some people must, otherwise it wouldn't have gotten built. Unless the sole purpose was to irritate people, and the people who funded this thing enjoy irritating people. That I could understand.

P.S. It took some digging to figure out just where this thing was. Dozens of photos of it all over the place, but most all of the writing was about what a cool picture it was. Idiots.




Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Jaguar


JAGUAR | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

What we have is a small group of Nazi hunters operating in Madrid in 1962. In 1962, Franco the Fascist was still in charge, so a pretty hostile environment for Nazi hunters. It's kind of like Mission: Impossible, surveillance, masquerade, and somehow they intend to bring the dirty Nazis to justice.

Update September 25: Aribert Heim, aka Dr. Death, is their target in this series. They eventually get their hands on him, but what happens? I don't remember, but it doesn't much matter because in real life the filthy bugger escaped from Spain to Cairo where he died in 1992.

Netflix, 5 or 6 episodes, 45 minutes each, Spanish with English subtitles.

A/C Repair Complete

Capacitor Connections

Turns out I didn't need to VOM. I opened up the case and found that there was another unused connection spade on the capacitor. I moved the white wire from the connector on the pink insulator (at the bottom of the picture) to the open one between the two blue wires. Turned it and away it hummed. Left it running long enough to feel the radiator getting warm and the condenser getting cold. I'm calling it fixed.

You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get a clear shot of this mess of wires. Hold it in your hand and it's perfectly clear where everything is plugged in. Taking a single photo that shows everything might not be possible. This one I think is adequate.



Room

Room
99 piece jigsaw puzzle

I can't decide whether this is a photograph or a painting, though it's hard to imagine someone wanting to paint a picture of such a dismal scene. Shoot, it's hard to imagine someone bothering to take a photo of something like this. I suppose it could be the setting for a story. Well, it was certainly the setting for somebodies story, but is it a story anyone wants to hear?

I can't tell you why this puzzle caught my eye, the scene is just so spectacularly wretched. Perhaps that's why.

Sophia Loren Mambo Italiano


Sophia Loren Mambo Italiano
AstroArt

Mambo Italiano was a hit song written by Bob Merrill in 1954 for singer Rosemary Clooney.


Post Mortem: Nobody Dies In Skarnes


Post Mortem | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

Entertaining story about a small town mortuary in Norway. Well, entertaining once we find out that the proprietor's sister is a vampire. Then it becomes very entertaining. Okay, it's a bit silly as well. However, there are numerous moral conundrums. Like is it okay to transport drugs in a dead body if you can make enough money to keep the bank from foreclosing on your house? And is it okay to kill the doctor who tried to kill you twice? And if your sister is a vampire is it okay to conceal the death of her latest victim from the police?

We also have a slight variation on the old vampire theme. We've dispensed with sleeping in coffins and the fear of sunlight, though how much sunlight does Norway get anyway? We just need a bit of blood, maybe a tablespoon or two to keep the craving under control.

In sum furrin gibberish (probably Norwegian) with English subtitles, 6 episodes, 45 minutes each, on Netflix.

The Bank Job


The Bank Job Trailer (2008)
DVD Movie Menus - Trailers

A Jason Statham movie that isn't all about Jason beating up people. We've also got Saffron Burrows who is awfully good looking. She made the movie for me.

We saw this movie once before. It's basically a true story, several of the characters in the movie were real people.

Jason organizes a crew to dig a tunnel from one store to the bank vault in the basement two doors down. Some of the guys he recruits are old hands at this sort of thing, but a couple of his current crew are just kids and their inexperience shows. No discipline and not too bright.

There seemed to be a lack of focus by the big wigs charged with dealing with this robbery after it comes to light, but maybe that was because they weren't fully apprised of what was involved.

Previous mention of this story here.

Prince William Sound & Barry Arm

Prince William Sound & Barry Arm

Nick and Lola have been working on commercial fishing boats the last two summers, or would have but Nick broke his foot and he's been on the sidelines this season. Lola worked though, and this was a very good year for the fishermen, so she made pile of money, enough to buy a used car anyway. Nick, the poor schmuck, is stuck at home taking care of his ailing father. That's what you get ya big dummy, trying to save that stupid jet-ski from that vicious, foot-eating dock.

The boats they work on operate in Prince William Sound which is this weird area southeast of Anchorage. Notably, Anchorage isn't on Prince William Sound, it's on Cook Inlet. To get from one to other you have to sail south to the Gulf of Alaska, which basically puts you out in the open ocean, as if you weren't already. Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound are both large bodies of water, Prince William Sound is roughly 75 miles across and maybe 50 miles north to south. What makes it weird is all these islands and the jagged coastline. It's not like Puget Sound or San Francisco Bay, the boundaries are not so well defined. It's more like Norway. You see that nice outline of Norway on your world map, but when you start examining it closely you see that it is just a jumble of giant rocks. The coast doesn't look like it has any proper land at all. Much the same can be said of Prince William Sound.

All around the sound are all these little inlets, and coming down from out of the mountains are all these little streams that empty into the inlet. When spawning season comes along, the adult salmon head back to the stream where they originated. Each one of these streams has their own tribe of fish. Evidently the fish self identify, I don't know that anyone else, man or fish, can tell. When all the salmon are heading home, they break the first rule of security: they have become predictable. Their nemesis, the commercial fisherman, knows this, and sets up his nets just offshore from where the stream empties into the inlet. All the fish swimming home run into his net and are caught. Well, not all of them. Some get by and that's enough to keep the salmon population going. At least I hope it is.

Then there's the issue of the number of streams and the number of boats. Too many boats might catch more salmon than the market wants, the price would collapse, and some fishermen would go broke. That would thin their ranks. So it's a very capricious way to make a living. The fish may or may not be plentiful, the market demand may be high or low, and there might be more than enough fishermen, or there might not be enough. If things go your way you could living high on the hog, if they don't you may find yourself on the beach, casting a line into the surf.

And that's just the business side of it. The reality of it is zillion dollar boats, crews hard at it all day long, out on the boat for weeks at a time, well, as long as the season lasts, or until the refrigeration system breaks and you have to come into Cordova which is only town to speak of.There is Valdez, but that's an oil town, Cordova is a fishing town. They have their own jetport so they can fly Ukrainians in to work in the fish processing plant. Liza has been working in Cordova as a general factotum, doing, among other things, delivering parts to repair the broken refrigeration systems on the commercial fishing boats.Anyway, fishing season is over and they are all here in Portland.

Nick informs me that Prince William Sound is under a kind of tsunami watch (pdf). They (the guys who watch these things) have latched onto Barry Arm as a potential disaster in the making. I am not quite sure what Barry Arm is, whether it is an arm of a glacier or a piece of land, but there is a glacier involved. The prediction is that sometime in the next 20 years, Barry Arm is going to collapse into Prince William Sound and that is going to trigger a tsunami 1600 feet high which will be like the biggest wave ever! It would cool to surf it, hey? 1600 feet. I can't even imagine. Of course it will dissipate very quickly, it's not like a major underwater fault shift. Still, it will probably be felt all over Prince William Sound, and since all the fishermen up there know about it, it is liable to influence the choice of fishing grounds. 


A/C Repair

John had a small, window A/C unit. Somehow it got dropped and it quit working, so I said I would take a look at it. I think that was about three months ago. I know what you're thinking, it got dropped and if it's not working anymore, something inside must have gotten busted. The odd thing was, there was no visible damage on the outside. It must not have fallen very far or very hard. Maybe some little plastic do-dad got busted and we can glue it back together. So a few days ago I opened it up and discovered what was wrong with it. It was blindingly obvious, the power cable had gotten ripped from it's connections and the ends were just flopping around in the air. Okay, this should be an easy fix, just plug the connectors back onto the spade lugs protruding from the switch body, except, one of the spade lugs has broken off. The other is bent, but this one has been broken off. You can see the jagged end of the broken off spade just protruding from the switch body. I look in the connectors on the end of the power cord and find nothing. I pick up the whole unit and give it a shake. Nothing falls out and there is nothing loose rattling around inside. Well, A/C units are full of holes, maybe it was ejected at the time of impact.

Right then I had two clues as what happened, but I ignored them both. Then I noticed that one of the power leads was much longer than the other, and the nylon clamp that had been holding the cord had been ripped apart. This was a fairly stout clamp, it was just a nylon strap, but it was secured by two screws. This is another clue.

I ignore the clues and press on with my instinctive solution - making a connection to the switch where that tab broke off. Osmony suggested soldering a piece of metal on there, he end cut a piece of metal to use, but I'm not that confident about my soldering skills, trying to solder two dissimilar pieces of metal, soldering for strength, not just to make an electrical connection, and having to solder right up next to the plastic, all that dissuaded me from that approach. It might have been possible to disassemble the switch further, but that would have meant making diagrams of how it fits together. So no, I'm not going to try and solder it.

I've already opened the switch. I can see a nice, big flat piece of metal about the size of your fingernail that I can drill a hole in, and look at this I have a screw just the right size lying here along with a standoff! Perfect!

Inside of switch with new screw and standoff

So I measure and mark and drill a hole in the top of the plastic case. That exposes the metal plate through which I now drill a tiny hole. Next is the tap, because the screw I picked up is a machine screw, not one of them ignorant sheet metal screws. Coincidentally, I have a box of small taps and one of them appears to be just the right size. I think it's a #3-48. Did I tell you about this box? I probably should. It's an alligator wrapped case about three inches square and one inch tall with a lid  with a snap. It was originally made to hold microscope slides, there are pieces of wood attached to two sides of the inside of the box, cut with grooves to hold the slides. I don't know where it came from, but when I came across it I thought it was just the right size for holding this collection of taps. The taps I picked up a my first job. That was over 50 years ago, and I'm still carrying this little box around with me.

I reassemble the switch, connect up the wires, mount it in the box and, are you ready?, plug it in, and bang! The circuit breaker trips immediately. What happened?

Disassemble the whole kit and kaboodle and lookie here - the piece of metal I drilled and tapped for the screw, that piece goes clear across the top of the switch and forms the lug for one of the power lines. By connecting the other power line to the screw I created a very short circuit. No wonder the circuit breaker tripped. Could have avoided this if I had looked a little closer. None so blind as he who will not see. I knew what the problem was, I didn't need to look at nuttin'.

John's window A/C switch showing broken tab

Now I realize the long power line goes to this capacitor looking thing mounted at the top of the unit. That explains why that lead was so much longer. It also explains why I didn't find a broken tab floating around loose. And the broken tab? It was a suspiciously clean break, almost like it had been cut. At the factory. When they made this machine. Bah.

Reconnected the wires to their correct connector tabs, plugged it in and it runs. Well, the fan runs, but turn the thermostat down until the compressor kicks on and all you get is some ugly buzzy-screechy sound. So not fixed. Osmany brought the VOM home last night, but wouldn't hand it over until he staged his little 'oh dear me, I forgot to bring it home' pity party. The dog.

Maybe today I'll discover what the new problem is. 


Cross My Heart

Cross My Heart

On page 353 of Dark Star by Alan Furst, our hero, Andre, has managed to cadge some coffee from the maids at the hotel where he and several other refugees have spent the night:

"There is only a little left," the dark girl said. "You won't tell, will you?"

"Never. It's our secret." He drew an X over his heart with one finger and she smiled.

He drew an X over his heart? Umm, golly gee, that sounds a whole lot like 

'cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye'

which I don't think I've heard since I was in elementary school. A little Googling turns up this explanation Ragan's PR Daily:

Though no one is certain exactly where this expression came from, many believe it originated from eras of plague and contagion. Centuries ago, infectious diseases often swept through communities quickly, sickening and killing people en masse.

To contain and treat the disease, those who died of infection were often buried in mass graves or were buried quickly after death. This sometimes led to an unconscious or comatose patient being mistakenly pronounced dead and buried. To avoid this, caregivers were said to stick a needle in the eye of the patient to ensure his or her death.

To say “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye” was to seek assurance that you would not be buried alive.

It's not great, but it sounds at least plausible. Doesn't really explain why little kids would thoroughly enjoy repeating it, other than children can be gruesome little creatures.

And while we're at it, I used the word 'cadge' in my opening sentence. I haven't heard that word in a coon's age.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Gone For Good


Gone For Good | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

Another Harlan Coben novel comes to the small screen. It's pretty good for what it is, which is a far-fetched mystery. We watched three of the five episodes to night, and we've got two dead girlfriends, except the second dead body wasn't the second girlfriend. There's the presumed dead brother, but he's been caught on camera with second dead woman's daughter, so maybe he ain't really dead. Then there is the second dead woman's former pimp, now parallelized and being kept alive in another badly disfigured woman's basement.

Basically, we've got two guys, not police, who are looking for the disappeared girlfriend. Some of their actions are unlikely, but most of them are just what you might expect people would do when they are looking for a missing person, and this makes it a pretty good show.

Netflix, 5 episodes, 45 minutes each, in French with English subtitles.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
221 piece jigsaw puzzle

This puzzle was considerable harder than others I have played recently. I think the number of pieces was too high for my small screen. Usually, I can kind of see where pieces go, but that didn't happen here. Once I got about halfway through I was reduced to just trying pieces in random places to see if they would click, and it was often places that did not look like they belonged.

The pieces in this puzzle are also randomly rotated. It does make it more difficult, but not as much as you might think. Color matching plays a bigger role.

Some of the pictures used in these jigsaw puzzles are impressive, and this one certainly is. I don't think I've ever seen it from this angle, and I've spent some time looking at Istanbul.


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Ax Repair

Repaired ax with drill and bit
Tape on drill bit is depth gauge

The quarter inch diameter drill bit wasn't big enough. I could only get the screw to go in about halfway. Osmany brought the 5/16" drill bit and that did the trick. Screw went in solid all the way. Took the ax out in the back yard and gave an old log a couple of dozen whacks. Did not seem to faze the ax, so for right now I'm calling it fixed. Whether it will hold up in heavy use remains to be seen. 

Hillman 5/16-in x 8-in Bronze Ceramic Truss Exterior Wood Screw

This is the screw I used. It cost almost $4 at Lowes. I like it because the body is the same diameter all the way down, you don't need to use two different size drill bits.

Previous posts about this repair here and here.

Cry Macho


CRY MACHO – Official Trailer
Warner Bros. Pictures

Clint's getting old. I only watched this movie out of respect. It's slow to the point of tedium. The writing is gastly and the horse scenes were feeble. There are a couple of villains who pop up a couple of times, but they are just annoying, as is the kid. The one bright spot is Marta, the widow who runs the cantina in some tiny little village.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning


RUROUNI KENSHIN: THE BEGINNING – Official Main Trailer
ワーナー ブラザース 公式チャンネル

In the late 1860s Japan there was a civil war being fought between the Shogunate (the Samurai) and the Emperor.

This movie is a live action adaptation of the anime movie series, which is nominally based on the life of a real-life samurai from this time period.

It's basically John Wick 2 with a sword. Entertaining with good production values. There might be a story in there somewhere, and there is an attractive, enigmatic girl. 
The film is a prequel to the [four] other Rurouni Kenshin films . . . It focuses on Kenshin's past as the assassin Hitokiri Battōsai during the final years of the Bakumatsu  . . .  - Wikipedia

The Last Samurai (starring Tom Cruise) was set in the same era.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Pedestrian Bridge

Glass Roofed Pedestrian Bridge
120 piece jigsaw puzzle

This bridge looks similar to the Pushkinskiy Bridge in Moscow, Russia. That one looks larger, and the nearby area is more built up. Google couldn't identify it.

Gunpowder Milkshake


Gunpowder Milkshake | Karen Gillan & Lena Headey | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

Way over the top shoot 'em up gangster movie. Best show I've seen in a long time. Take equal parts Pulp Fiction, John Wick and Clint Eastwood, stir liberally, add a pinch of Sin City and serve. Near continuous action, superb fight choreography and fabulous sets, but it's the little things, too many to count, that send it over the top into comedy.

Making An Ax Handle


DiResta Axe Handle
jimmydiresta

This guy is just nuts. The amount of work he puts into making an ax handle boggles my mind. I suppose it could have been done in a couple of hours, but you would need to be really good at using the tools, especially that band saw. I've never seen anyone use a bandsaw like that, well, except for maybe 'Uncle' Steve Blady. We stopped by to see him at his furniture factory when we went 'home' to Grand Rapids to visit Gramma (or maybe it was just someone from Gramma's generation. Gramma may have already passed away by then). He cut a couple of model pieces of furniture out of some scraps of wood he had lying around. It didn't take him but a few seconds. As I recall, one was a four legged chair and the other was a four legged table with four, stout, curvy legs. I hung onto them for a long time. A bunch of model furniture would have been cool, but I never did anything about that. They never rose to the level of display, they were just something I had. I think that was pert near 60 years ago. I don't know what happened to them, but I clearly remember 'Uncle' Steve whipping them out on his bandsaw. Funny how the mind works.

On my ax handle, I tried drilling it for the lag screw with a 12 inch long, quarter inch diameter drill bit. It went in about eight inches before it just quit. It's like it has run into a steel bar, it just won't drill anymore. I suspect it got overheated, lost it's temper, and lost it's edge. Osmany is bringing the long 5/16" diameter drill bit home tonight, so we can try that one tomorrow. We don't do anything quickly around here. Median time to project completion averages right around a year, and that's only the projects that get completed.

I need the larger drill bit because the lag screw I've got just won't go in more than about four inches. It's a lumber construction screw, designed to be machine driven into softwood, not hardwood like an ax handle. I only got as far as I did with a liberal application of wax. Unfortunately, it was from a scented candle, so now that whole corner of the garage smells like sweet essence of whatever it is.

P.S. I'm glad to see Jimmy still has all his fingers. Uncle Steve still had all of his.

Video via Jack.

Update five hours later. Video suggestion from California Bob:





Styx - Too Much Time On My Hands
STYX


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Vault


THE VAULT | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies
Paramount Movies

An entertaining heist movie. Pirate treasure hunter Walter discovers an ancient Spanish shipwreck and just as he pulls up the last of the loot from the bottom of the sea, the Spanish authorities show up and confiscate the lot. Naturally, Walter is pissed, so he gathers his small band of followers and starts looking for a way to break into the bank to get his treasure back. It's a bit of a tough nut to crack, so he recruits a recent engineering graduate to help him sort it out.

The whole vault complex is just ridiculous, but it means our crew has to surmount numerous obstacles using all kinds of hi-tech gee-gaws. Very entertaining.

Netflix, 2 hours.

Update replaced unplayable trailer. I neglected to notice that the embedding was disabled.

Crooked House


Crooked House - Official Trailer
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Crooked House is an Agatha Christie murder mystery. If you've read any of her stories, you are no doubt familiar with her formula:
Author Dilys Winn called Christie "the doyenne of Coziness", a sub-genre which "featured a small village setting, a hero with faintly aristocratic family connections, a plethora of red herrings and a tendency to commit homicide with sterling silver letter openers and poisons imported from Paraguay".  - Wikipedia

This one sticks closely to the formula. A very pleasant film, reminds me of Knives Out. The scene with Glenn Close going after the moles in her lawn with a shotgun struck close to home.And then we have the car.

1955 Bristol 405

It looked vaguely familiar, but the large back glass threw me, probably because I hadn't seen it from that angle before. It's the same car that was used in Phantom Thread.


 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Kate


KATE | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

A very stylish, over the top, action thriller, reminiscent of Blade Runner and, now that you mention it, Atomic Blonde. The car chase scene and the car used in that scene were spectacular. Kate mows down a bunch of bad guys, but it wasn't quite as endless as John Wick: Chapter 2. There was a bit of a plot, but not enough to worry about. The nightlife scenes in Tokyo were pretty great, and the teenage girl was a hilarious bright spot.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Kate the assassin and Woody Harrelson as her boss Varrick. During her last mission, she finds out that she has been poisoned with Polonium 204. Golly gee, that sounds a whole lot like Crank (Jason Statham).

Netflix, 1:46

Rote Grutze

 I really like Alan Furst. I'm making my way through Dark Star and on page 147 I encounter this little bit:

"An Alsatian traiteur was located; a smiling Lotte Huber left the his shop trailed by a taxi driver struggling under the weight of two cases of Rote Grutze sauce in special crocks of the Alsatian's own design. He was also prepared to offer weisswurst, jaegerwurst, freshly cured sauerkraut subtly flavored with juniper berries because - and here the rosy-cheeked triateur leaned over the counter and spoke an expression exquisitely polite German - "a man who favors Rote Grutze will always, always, madame, want a hint of juniper in his sauerkraut. This is an appetite for piquancy. And this is an appetite we understand."

Being as it is at the crux of an action, it's just perfect.

 

Saturday

After months of delaying, I finally started taking care of some little projects, projects that can hardly be said to matter in the grand scheme of things, but projects I've wanted to tackle and this week I finally did.

Epoxied Ax Handle

I glued my broken ax handle with epoxy. No, I do not suppose this will fix it, but I plan on putting an eight inch long screw down the axis of the handle. Will it hold? Will it hold for more than a dozen strokes? We shall see. I bought this ax years ago. There were some logs lying at the bottom of the hill in the backyard, on the verge of being in the swamp. It might be nice if they are cut up, but that area turns to mush in the winter, so it's not like it's going to make any difference. Still, it would be nice if they were cut up. I could do it with an ax. It would be slow going, but I'm not in any hurry, and I could use the exercise. So I bought an ax and chopped. I don't know how much I did, it was years ago, but I was a middle aged suburban home owner, I wasn't a 20 something lumberjack going at it ten hours a day. And the ax broke. Nuisance. Bought a replacement handle (back then you could buy them at Home Depot), fitted it up and went back to my sporadic chopping. And then it broke again.

I drove around with it in the trunk of my car for years. Eventually I remembered it while I was in the ACE Hardware store in St. Johns and I checked and they had a handle so I bought it. $8 I think. Turns out it was for a double bitted ax, not a single bit like mine, and it wasn't going to work. I still have it. Let me know if you need it, maybe I could ship it to you, though the shipping would probably be more that the original cost. But with inflation the way it is, that still might be a bargain compared to how much a new ax handle would cost, if you could find one.

Earlier this year we took out the plum tree in John's backyard in St, Johns. We have any number of power saws at our beck and call, but the boys wanted to use axes. Shit, I've got an ax, but it's busted, so we went to Home Depot to see if they had an ax handle. They didn't. They did have new axes with plastic handles for $35 and since we were on a mission from God, we didn't quibble, we bought it and carried on.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've still got this broken ax. I've got a new handle, but it won't work. There is an ACE Hardware not too far from here, but I don't relish calling them, even less driving over there. I guess I feel like I should just be able to go over there, they will have what I need and I can buy it and go on. That's the way it used to work, I didn't need to call ahead, I was confident that the store would have what I wanted. But then I was dealing with stuff that everyone dealt with, so of course they had what I needed. Now is 20 years and times have changed. You want an ax handle? It's kind of niche item. I did drive to the store once and it didn't work out so well, so I don't want a repeat. Logic does not apply here, feel me?

So now I have this great idea to try and fix it. Will it work? I think it might, for a bit anyway. It's an experiment in any case. The part that bothers me is that I broke the handle. I'm, not a lumberjack swinging an ax all day long. I'm just puttering about in my back yard. What the heck? Are ax handles that fragile? Was replacing them a daily occurrence with people who were really using them? Or was I just not in the swing of things? Inquiring minds want to know,

All this talk about axes reminds me that my dad had a double bitted ax. He bought some land in Renton (south of Seattle) and we would go out there occasionally and he would hack away at the brush. I'm not sure what the point was (I was pretty little), but now I wonder if it wasn't just a chance to get away from the corporate bullshit that was going on at Boeing.

Chopping through logs

We can't let this topic go without mentioning the scoutmaster who gave us a lesson on how to use a hatchet to cut through a six inch log. You strike one blow at 45 degrees, then move the log's diameter along the trunk and strike another blow, 45 degrees the other way, back towards your first blow. If you are lucky that will knock loose a chip. Stop and pull it off. No sense cutting through stuff that isn't holding the log together. Now you repeat this two more times, each time rotating your angle of attack 45 degrees around the axis of the log. It was a great lesson, and I used that wisdom whenever I have used an ax, but it's basically useless. The only reason I have ever swung an ax was for entertainment purposes.

Bent & Broken Spade Connectors

Okay, enough about axes. On to air conditioners. John bought a cheap room air conditioner. It worked fine for a while, but then it got dropped while it was being moved and it quit working. We figured it couldn't be too badly broken, there was no damage to the case. Some electrical component got jarred and just needs to be reconnected. Today I opened it up and found that the power cord connections had gotten ripped away from the switch. Shoot, this should be an easy fix, just slide the connectors back over the tabs protruding from the switch. Except. One of the tabs has been broken off. Okay, fine, order a new switch. Look on the web and the only thing I find is a used on for $60. I don't think so. Take the switch apart. Looks like we can drill a hole and use a screw to connect the power line to the switch. Just need to find the right electrical connector bits.

Since I am on a role I decided to tackle the drill bit packaging problem. I went a little crazy and bought too many drill bits a while back, so I decided to break up the smaller package and distribute them to my friends. It cost me almost nothing and if they use drill bits like I do, it should make them very happy. I've been stewing on how to package them for weeks. Small envelopes would have worked, but then I would have to buy envelopes, and they come in packages of a thousand. I don't need a thousand. I need five. I finally decided to use masking tape to tape them to a sheet of cardboard. Masking tape is cheap, cardboard is free. The only expense will be the postage which shouldn't be too much since the envelopes only weigh a couple of ounces.